NEA eyeing P29 B for electrification projects

The National Electrification Administration (NEA) will be knocking on the doors of the Executive Branch and Congress to secure up to P29.542 billion budget to bankroll the country’s multi-tiered electrification rollout until the end of the Marcos administration in 2028.

According to NEA Administrator Antonio Mariano C. Almeda, the country has yet to accomplish the energization of more than 10,000 on-grid sitios – and that fraction alone will need financing allocation of P20.794 billion.

The other project funding to be earmarked would cover those on: barangay line enhancement program for P2.378 billion; solar photovoltaic (PV) mainstreaming program at P568 million; as well as microgrid/hybrid installations which will be requiring P900 million.

Data from the electrification agency further indicated that additional capital infusion of P4.902 billion could be catalyzed through the participation of private sector players -- either as new power providers (NPPs) and as qualifying third party (QTP) investors; while some may carry out energization ventures as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs.

If the comprehensive energization of all sitios and off-grid domains will be consummated, at least 1.168 million Filipino households will benefit from the program.

When asked on the recurring dilemma of funding shortfall for nationwide electrification, Almeda noted “If we can present to Congress, or if we can present to the President or to DOE (Department of Energy) that we have streamlined the monitoring and implementation of sitio electrification -- having set the target, then I think Congress would be mindful to support this national program of the government -- that there has to be 100-percent electrification program.”

At the duration of his reign at NEA, Almeda sounded off that he is looking seriously into concretizing the full sitio electrification mandate, “and I am bent on issuing stringent guidelines for its fair implementation, effective implementation.”

He, nevertheless, acknowledged that when it comes to project financing allocation, this was where tight spot has been coming off since 2017 – because budget release has just been limited at P1.6 billion on average annually; exhibiting then that it has always been below expectations.

Almeda likewise stated that energization cost per sitio had already gone haywire – rising to P2.5 million per sitio at present from previously at P1.5 million per sitio.

“That will need a budget. I think it has been adjusted already – from P1.5 million per sitio, it is now P2.5 million. So hopefully, we will be extended a budget of P20 billion up to 2028, that’s the entire budget,” he stressed.

The cost uptick, Almeda expounded, had been precipitated by various factors; including those on raw materials; steel; development costs and logistics. “These are all based on study conducted by NEA, so we have to adjust the cost, otherwise, we will not be able to achieve the targets,” he asserted.

Beyond funding concerns, he also conveyed that there are other factors hamstringing the provision of electricity services to the underserved and unserved areas of the country, primarily those that are in far-flung areas.

The NEA chief narrated that in the past implementations of the program, “there have been a lot of loopholes in terms of that’s something I’m addressing and getting to the bottom of it – if an electric cooperative won’t liquidate, then the whole franchise area will suffer. But if they are prompt on their liquidation, then there will be additional programs in line.” ###